Attitude Determines Altitude

I was recently at an awards banquet for the hospital I work for when I had the pleasure of hearing a motivational speech by USA Paralympian Rudy Garcia-Tolsen. A double-amputee below the knee, Rudy talked about his journey from the rehabilitation hospital all the way to winning multiple gold medals for swimming in the Paralympic Games. Addressing a room full of people who had never faced adversity like he had, Rudy focused on the message to never give up on your goals no matter what setbacks you encounter. I found Rudy’s speech incredibly inspiring – enough to write a few of his quotes down on a napkin for this article. Rudy says he never saw his condition as a disability. Recounting the first time he won a competition and overhearing his opponent complaining “I can’t believe I just lost to the kid with no legs,” Rudy remembers thinking “That stoked the fire in me. I knew right away - I want more of that.” As he walked off the stage, his final message stuck with me:

“My mission is to show people the real disability in life is a negative attitude.”

The Road to Progress

Attitude and state of mind are critical to your success in anything in life, but especially in competition. While many of us will never face physical challenges similar to Rudy, we can absolutely resonate with his message. Recently I have noticed more and more players competing in FFTCG struggling with a negative attitude or with the negative attitudes of those around them. Players aptly refer to this as “toxicity” because the attitude is prone to infecting and spreading to those who come in contact with it. Having a negative attitude will increase your number of mistakes and severely restrict your ability to learn from those mistakes. In order to eliminate toxicity and refocus ourselves on a healthy, competitive mindset we need to set positive goals, handle setbacks, and adjust our attitudes.

You don’t have to be a world-class athlete or a fierce competitor to set goals for yourself. Having positive goals helps you focus during games and makes it easier to identify and fix mistakes. Your goal could be something as small and simple as remembering to say “good luck” and “good game” to your opponents. Perhaps your goal is more along the lines of winning your next locals, or even winning the next big tournament. Your goal could be as simple as Rudy’s was at first: to beat the people who underestimated him. No matter what level of competitor you are, having a goal will give you a strong focus on your own personal success and help cultivate a positive mindset.

“Success is a way of life. It’s how I get up in the morning, it’s what motivates me – my goals, my dreams. If you set goals, anything is possible.”


Setting a goal means you are setting a bar for success – similarly failing to accomplish your goals can often make you feel like you are not and cannot be successful. Setbacks like these are something we have all experienced whether we lost in finals or 0-X dropped a tournament. Success feels different to everyone, and I think it’s important to redefine success for yourself as anything that helps you take a step towards that goal. A loss, misplay or mistake is not necessarily a setback but rather an opportunity for progress towards success.

On any journey towards accomplishing a goal, you are always going to have difficulties and failures; good times and bad times. There may even be times when you feel like you are stuck in a rut and progress towards your goal is out of your reach. If you experience one of these hurdles, take a step back and set a new goal for yourself. Change your negative association with your loss or misplay into an opportunity to improve your play. Did you forget about a field effect and throw the game? Work on checking the board state every turn. Did your opponent easily counter your high-risk play? Work on managing risks or on predicting your opponent’s answers based on their deck choice, board state and Break Zone.

After setting a new goal, share your goal with someone! This will serve to hold you accountable for your goal but it will also encourage that other player to help you achieve that goal. In testing they may highlight your mistakes and talk through different choices you could make. Finding inspiration from others’ play and working together are some of the fastest ways to foster a positive mindset and make progress towards your goals.

Positivity Drives Productivity

Often the most difficult time to be positive is after experiencing a large setback. We have all heard players who talk about how unlucky they were, how close they were to winning; how if just one thing had gone differently they would have been successful. When you resort to those coping mechanisms after a game, you are selfishly detracting from the success of your opponent. Your opponent may have their own goals they were working on or plays that they were proud of. Instead of coming up with a list of reasons you are the victim compliment your opponent on plays or choices they made that were difficult for you to handle. Talking through your games in a positive manner afterwards will always have a positive impact on your play. Your opponent may even help you learn a new strategy to defeat their deck! In every game of FFTCG there is a winner and a loser, and so it is very important to be comfortable being both roles.

A simple fact to remember is that a negative attitude will NEVER increase your chances of achieving your goals. Being more positive has a direct correlation with being more successful, and will make your journey to success easier and certainly friendlier. Positivity breeds productivity! Players are happy to work and test with others who have positive attitudes, and positive players add value to every group they are a part of. What makes a successful player is not the cards they own, the lists they play, or even the people they play with. Successful players are more often than not goal-oriented with positive attitudes. Reach out to players who inspire you and ask them what goals they set for themselves, but also ask them about the setbacks they have experienced and how they handled them. If you foster positivity and teamwork at your local game store, you will watch as your community positively influences new players and other surrounding communities and improves all of your play! By lifting each other up, having a positive mindset, and setting progressive goals you have everything you need to level up your game!

by John Schreiner

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